virus: High and Low Traditions
Fri, 20 Oct 95 14:31:49 -0500

I have been following the discussions lately and
remembered on of the most useful descriptions of practice
from my Phenomenolgy of Religion course.

Most religions have a "High" and "Low" tradition.
In the Catholic Church for instance, the high tradition
is things like the arguments of the scholastics in
the middle ages, Aquinas, the church's historical
importance in politics, the high masses, etc.
The low tradition is such things as the cults of
the saints and Virgin Mary, straighforward belief
in miracles, various pagan and superstitous practices
that have been incorporated into regional church
ceremonies, etc. The high tradition often eventually
tries to explain or pass judgement on various parts of
the low tradition, since the priests usually have some
training in the high tradition.

One of the characteristics of fundamentalism may be
a schism between the high and low traditions. The
low tradition deals most with the day-to-day life
of the believers. One could even argue that most
life-passage ceremonies (christenings, weddings, funerals)
are the most important part of the "low" tradition,
even though they incorporate formulas from the "high"
theology and philosophy of the church.

Protestantism seems to have been more of an attempt
to combine the two traditions into the life of every
believer, rather than letting the scholastics and
cardinals argue philosophy and the priests intercede
on one's behalf. But now fundamentalisms seem to me
to be a "low" tradition with a truncated (or even silly)
"high" tradition, useful for demagogues. In many ways
the place in society of the high tradition has been taken
over by science, which I think attracts thinkers the
way monasteries used to.

Virus seems very much in the tradition of the high tradition.
If this is really to become a religion, how will it
deal with these issues? What about funerals, weddings,
and various ceremonies? These things are not rational,
but they have very important memetic effects and purposes.
They are the main "hook" for those who are not interested
in an intellectual approach, or even who are just not
interested in philosophy at some given time?

And what about those seeking ecstatic religion? It's a
powerful hook. Can ecstatic mystical states be approached

I guess my question is how can a mailing list be a religious
community? And is anyone moving towards a less "abstract"
religion. Virus seems top-heavy with the high tradition.